Saturday, May 11, 2013

Saturday Serendipity (May 11, 2013)

Saturdays often allow a more leisurely approach to life than work days. I can more easily post links to some blog posts or other materials I have discovered during the week, or even to those discovered during a Saturday morning coffee and extended surfing of the blogosphere/internet.

Here are a few serendipitous discoveries from this week that I commend for inclusion on your reading list.

I sometimes pause to ponder (after the fact) the path my mind and poor typing on the keyboard travel when I find myself following some random piece of information that sets some of my synapses firing for one reason or another.  At other times I find some items of related interest while doing some intentional background research for a post I am working on.  This week I am highlighting a few of those meanderings to illustrate how I found my way to a few interesting reads.  

1.  It began with a "Today Only! Deep Discount" email announcing a great deal on a book called Pedigrees of Some of the Emperor Charlemagne's Descendants.  Vol. III.  [Today only $22.50 rather than the regular paperback price of $37.95].   We all know the old saw about folks having traced their genealogy back to Charlemagne, the first Holy Roman Emperor (b. 742 - d. 814).  Since I had not read much about Ol' Charlemagne in some time next thing I know I am on Google selecting a quick read at the Wikipedia entry.  Brushing up on a little Charlemagneia, I am reminded that Karolus Magnus and I share the same birthday (month and day -- not year); Charlie the 1st, King of the Franks, had four wives and about six concubines; and Karl der Grosse supposedly had 18 children by eight of his ten wives and concubines -- but he only had four legitimate grandsons.  This last factoid was curious given the next step on my journey.  Mark Humphrys (who BTW has 148,000 page views per month!) gives many of us with deep Western European roots a new medal to pin on our genealogies!  Mark states that it is quite likely that EVERYONE in the West descends from Ol' Charles the Great!  Who knew?  See Mark's discussion of MRCAs (Most Recent Common Ancestor) here and learn about the connections that ALL of us quite likely have to . . . Well, you better go on the journey yourself.  

2.  An item in Heather Kuhn Roelker's Leaves For Trees "Follow Friday" yesterday reminded me of another detour I took while writing the post about my wife's great grandmother's determination to keep her family together and how she took in babies for the New York Foundling Home (see post of April 26, 2013).  In addition to learning about the "Orphan Train" (an interesting subject in itself), I stumbled across this site on Flicker.  It is heart-wrenching to see images of notes desperate mothers left when leaving their babies at the Foundling Home. 

3.  I stumbled across an interesting pictorial piece about the physical evolution of the driver's license when I was preparing a short photo post of my grandfather's 97-year-old paper Rhode Island driver's license on Thursday of this week.  Here is a very interesting photo journey through the evolution  of the driver's license in New York (1910 - 2013).

4.   How cool would it be to have an ancestor mentioned by name in a poem by a poet who was a  close friend of Longfellow?  And would it be even cooler to discover that the same ancestor was a life-long employee at the tavern and inn made famous by Longfellow himself??  Well, if you think so, then you must go here to Diane McLean Boumenot's blog One Rhode Island Family to read the details of her journey of discovery.  It is a well-written, engaging story complete with old and new photos.  Enjoy!

5.  The Legal Genealogist, Judy R. Russell, consistently provides timely, interesting and important reads on legal aspects of genealogy.  I completely agree with her views of the recent SCOTUS (Supreme Court of the United States) decision that trims a little more off the public's access to government-collected information that could be very useful to those involved in genealogy research.  Read Judy's thoughts here

6.   And here is a very useful post that I had on my Saturday Serendipity list a couple of weeks ago and it somehow slipped through the cracks.  Barbara Poole, author of Life From The Roots blog, had a handy post here about discovery of family reunion possibilities and a directory of Family Associations.  Barbara includes a page example and cover photo of the 4th Edition of the Directory.

And last, but certainly not least . . .  Tomorrow is Mother's Day and for my family it is somewhat of a "genealogy trifecta."  Tomorrow is our older son's birthday, Mother's Day, AND the day we gather in historic Williamsburg, Virginia where our younger son, Christopher, will have his master's degree conferred in a graduation ceremony at The School of Education of The College of William and Mary (the second oldest college in the nation).  Happy Birthday Jonathan -- who celebrates with a return to his alma mater to see his brother graduate!  Happy Mother's day and much love to Shirley and Doreen (the grandmothers) and to Molly the mother of the birthday boy and the graduate!  And CONGRATULATIONS to Christopher for a job exceedingly well done as he graduates with straight As AND is already employed for the coming academic year!  Way to go . . . we are all very proud of you! 

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QUIZ ANSWER:  Last week in Saturday Serendipity I posed a question at the end of a couple of items related to May Day celebrations and traditions.  The question was, "Which American college has a continuing maypole tradition going back over 100 years?"  I had one particular college in mind that is an alma mater of my daughter-in-law, Pam.  Fellow blogger and distant cousin, Heather Wilkinson Rojo (of Nutfield Genealogy fame -- a Top 40 Blog for 2013), supplied a different answer and sent me to the web for a little research.  Here is the better answer to the quiz . . . I had Bryn Mawr College in mind since they have had a maypole tradition since 1900.  But, it turns out the tradition has not always been an annual event.  In the early days it was scheduled every couple of years with a Big event every four years.  The Bryn Mawr maypole events sometimes drew thousands of spectators.  Heather's daughter is a Simmons College grad and that was Heather's answer to the quiz.  Well, Simmons celebrated its 100th maypole anniversary on May Day 2012 and it appears Simmons has the longest continuous annual maypole celebration.  With a combined two centuries of maypole experience between Bryn Mawr and Simmons, perhaps it is time for what we might call a "maypole spin-off " between Bryn Mawr and Simmons.  It could be held on neutral territory between Boston and Bryn Mawr, PA and happen every few years as the maypole traditions of both colleges run into a second century.  I think Vassar sounds like a good venue for the event -- and it could be used as a charity fundraiser.  What do you think?  I for one would buy a ticket and shuffle off to Poughkeepsie for such an event and fundraiser!  

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Copyright 2013, John D. Tew

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  1. John, thanks for mentioning my post about family reunions. It was such a short post, but I thought the book might prove useful to somebody. Kind of you to select the article for your Saturday Serendipity.

  2. I'm late in responding! How interesting that you have a tie to a foundling home. Such a sad I'll have to read about your wife's great grandmother's story.

  3. Thank you for your comment Heather! Margaret Hayes was indeed a very interesting woman. I wish I had been able to meet her -- such determination to keep her family together! I am actually slowly piecing together a little more information about her -- largely from her sole surviving grandchild through her daughter Nora (my wife's grandmother). I hope to have enough to justify another post later this year.